The Canoe Diaries

  • Tuesday, July 18, 1967

    Missed an entry? Wondering what this is all about? Start at the beginning and follow along as the 5th Whitby Venturer Scouts canoe to Montreal.

    The following passages were reproduced from the scrapbooks of Gerry Hicks. They have been transcribed without correction. 

    It is now 2 days before my birthday and I think it is a very good way not only to spend my 2 weeks’ vacation but also to spend my birthday. We got up at 7:00 A.M. & after breakfast the boys got together and tried to bury Benny in a pit used earlier to initiate the Sea Scouts. As usual, John Brady was the instigator. After our brief bit of fun we all gathered together to plan our day’s move. We decided that in order to arrive in Ottawa early in the day we would have to split the remaining 30 miles in two. We decided to canoe to Long Island Locks which is 8 miles east of Ottawa.

    At 8:30 A.M. we left Kemptville, Ont., and started paddling down the Rideau once more. The boys are really taking it easy now and are clowning around, from side to side of the canal, always singing songs & rapping their paddles on the canoes & making a lot of noise.

    Canoe gliding through the Rideau Canal.

    The Rideau is changing fast now and you can tell that we are getting closer to Ottawa. The cottages along the scenic Rideau in this immediate area are beautiful. They are more like large mansion than everyday cottages. They are the nicest ones we have seen so far on the trip.

    It is still very hot & every now and then the boys stop and have a quick swim. We paused in Mannotick for a while & looked over a large war canoe which was manned by a group of Venturers from Montreal who were heading back to Montreal.

    We stopped and talked to the lockmaster regarding registration for our canoes. I had to go to the doctor’s here in Mannotick as I suffered from second degree burns. Here the doctor treated me and I had to observe his strict rules of being completely covered for 3 days. What a hell of a thing to get used to after not wearing any shirt & just a pair of shorts, especially when it is 90 degrees. I was wrapped up like a mummy in gauze bandages as I had huge blisters on my arms & legs.

    We arrived at our campsite at 4:30 P.M. The last canoe arrived at 6:30 P.M. Benny had made arrangements with the lockmaster to camp at the locks with all the modern facilities. The locks along this whole system are beautifully kept and all have the most modern facilities. A lot of the locks are equipped with pay telephones & some even have a small snack bar. We now have left the Rideau Canal behind us, all the way to Kingston. And we have portaged a total of 49 locks.

    Supper was served at 7:00 P.M. by myself and Gerald Lynch. To-night it was our turn to act as chief cooks and bottle washers. We served hamburg patties in tomato sauce, peas and rice, onion, cooked cabbage & tea.

    Our evening after supper was a quiet one. The scenery was very beautiful here. There were also a number of other people camping here. All there is to do to-night is take a short walk and think about home and Expo 67; then I revert my thinking and think of the crew & I then feel proud, not only proud to be a participant in the trip but to be a leader. Everyone is happy go lucky. Thank goodness now we are not hindered by the crappy Group Committee.

    We think of the people who have done so much to help us; people like Mayor Newman whom we are all very proud of, and Mr. Vernon McCarl [MacCarl] who is a councillor in our large town and Mrs. Carter who is also from Whitby and is a devoted member of the Whitby Centennial Committee, Mrs. LaHaye, Ivan Kellestine, the fathers of the boys, our chaplain and many more people too numerous to mention. These people are always mentioned by the boys and very well spoken of by them and the leaders.

    Images: Gliding through the Rideau Canal.

    Crossed paddles with banner that reads follow the canoe.

  • Monday, July 17, 1967

    Missed an entry? Wondering what this is all about? Start at the beginning and follow along as the 5th Whitby Venturer Scouts canoe to Montreal.

    The following passages were reproduced from the scrapbooks of Gerry Hicks. They have been transcribed without correction. 

    After a good night’s sleep & a hearty breakfast we left Smith [Smiths] Falls at approx.  8:30 A.M. The people from the various boats took pictures and said good bye. Here is where we left our American friend. The first lock was a dandy. This one contained 3 gates. The Rideau, believe it or not, NOW is running downhill. This doesn’t mean much as far as current goes, it is nil. Our total portage distance here is approx. ½ mile, then our canoes were launched once again. It is quite warm now, for this time in the morning.

    Benny LaHaye's canoe in the Rideau Canal.

    There is no wind and the water is very calm. The water is quite stagnant. Now, for some unknown reason, I think of what our group committee and parents said before we departed on the trip which was namely to observe all rules of the water & to wear our life jackets all the time. This statement I think is impossible to follow up, especially the latter part. If we had them on to-day probably all would be in the hospital as you cannot paddle a canoe all day wearing a May [Mae] West. If you fell in, it would be very, very difficult getting back into the canoe. Furthermore, since all 10 canoes are together and everyone was a strong swimmer we didn’t need them on. Most everyone used his life jacket either to kneel upon or sit on or for a pillow.

    But each canoe carried 3 preservers & a spare paddle to comply with water regulations as set by the Dept. of Transport.

    Plus the fact that wearing a preserver while paddling makes paddling very difficult as the jacket is digging into your shoulders.

    Meanwhile back to the paddling. It is now getting towards lunch time and it is 90 degrees in the shade. We have passed through 5 more locks, crossed 3 more small lakes and have reached Merricksville where Gerald Lynch is waiting for us with lunch. To this point, I have been paddling with John Brady. We arrived third from the last which wasn’t bad for John & I as we liked to stop every now and then for a break. We have travelled 14 miles so far, which we made in very good time.

    The scouts at Merricksville for lunch.

    Everyone is getting very black but I am getting red as a beet. Overexposed to the sun. After lunch we all had a quick swim as the water was pretty clean here. We were greeted by the Provincial Field Executive of the Boy Scouts. He took many photos of us for Canadian Boy & made arrangement for us in Ottawa.

    After our few hours rest, we decided to shove off again at a slower pace as we only had 14 miles to go to our next stop which was at Kemptville. Miles now mean nothing to us, we look at the trip a lot different than we did at the first. The boys now have the one thing that we, the leaders were looking for in them which was Tolerance and Self-Discipline. Before, the question was How far is it? How long? I’m tired let’s stop. Now they say: Only 14 miles, heck let’s take our time and fool around on the way. We have loads of time and that’s what we are doing to-day. Peter Bedard is now back with John Brady in Brady’s own canoe. They have decided to go over a small dam which has a drop of 7 ft. and since it is John’s own canoe we all think it is okay, so over they went. They went sideways and got partially wet & we all enjoyed a good laugh.

    Well, we crossed 5 more locks and to our surprise met our American friend once more. We are always ahead by a couple of miles on our American friend and other types of water craft as it takes almost an hour to go through the locks.

    We arrived at Kemptville, 5:00 P.M. and camped at Kemptville [Rideau River] Provincial Park located on highway 16, 3 miles north west of Kemptville & approximately 30 miles outside of Ottawa to the south. The park is on the north side of the Rideau and is 1 mile long. It is quite thickly wooded but is a nice camping spot with all the facilities There is also a nice beach. We didn’t have to pay for our spot as they have an area of the park set aside where boys’ groups do not have to pay.

    Aerial view of Kemptville.

    The only thing wrong is the flies. They are really bad.

    We were camping alongside some Sea Scouts who sailed from Montreal in a large whaler. They planned to return in a few days. When we arrived, they were having an initiation ceremony for 6 new sea cadets and we were asked if we cared to help in the ceremony. We accepted the invitation and began pouring seaweed ketchup marmite & sand on them. Then we basted them with jam and honey. What a laugh. They were one hell of a mess. Later, we held a huge joint campfire where songs were sung and our group put on some skits.

    Scouts taking part in the Sea Scout initiation.

    We all retired fairly early. Our tents were pitched on sand and thus we had a very comfortable sleep.


    Images: A portage around one of the locks on Rideau River System (Ben's [LaHaye] canoe is in the foreground); Arriving in Merricksville for lunch; Aerial view of Kemptville, ON; Showing the initiation of the Sea Scouts.

    Crossed paddles with banner that reads follow the canoe. 

  • Sunday, July 16, 1967

    Missed an entry? Wondering what this is all about? Start at the beginning and follow along as the 5th Whitby Venturer Scouts canoe to Montreal.

    The following passages were reproduced from the scrapbooks of Gerry Hicks. They have been transcribed without correction. 

    Up early again, to head to Smith (Smiths) Falls which is 10 miles from Rideau Ferry. We want to arrive there as quickly as possible so as to have the rest of the day to ourselves. The water was calm and it was a nice morning but kind of cool at first.

    Our maps showed a short cut through some marsh lands for smaller boats so we decided to take it. We have been gone for 1 week now and have left many miles behind us. Muscles are really starting to show on the boys and they are black from the sun. The canal is very tricky and very shallow. We all headed out racing for the “Falls”.

    There was a lot of maneuvering around the canal as it was very windy, and corners hat to be cut really sharp. Benny and his son were in the leady. This is usual as Ben is using a specially designed canoe exclusively used for racing. After the first 5 miles the only other canoes to be seen were those of Gerry Lynch’s and Gord Woodcock and John Bedard and Bill Lavalley. The rest of us were to [too] far back. We stopped and talked for a while, smoked and fooled around.

    Ben was the first to arrive at Smith [Smiths] Falls in 1 ½ hours. The last 2 canoes to arrive were John Gauthier, Dan Gravelle, and John Brady and Gerry Hicks. It is awful to say this, but it took us 3 ½ hours to go 10 miles.

    All of us ate Breakfast in a restaurant this morning for a change. As it was Sunday morning all attended mass. It took 3 trips by the wagon to get us all there and back.

    Our whole group ate a hell of a pile of bacon & eggs, and coffee this morning. If you ever want a real good cup of coffee take a drive to Smith [Smiths] Falls and stop in at Hunter’s Drive-In.

    John Brady, John Gauthier, & myself were in charge of the laundry detail, so we marched it all off down-town to the laundro-mat.

    By this time, it was time to stop for lunch so we ate in a Greek Restaurant alongside the laundry-mat.

    After this, we drove around the town and dropped the letter off at the Police Station for the mayor as we tried to get hold of him but he was away for the day. Later back at camp which incidentally was at the Park in the town which has facilities for all types of camping we found out company had arrived. Mr. & Mrs. Lavalley and Mrs. LaHaye arrived to spend a few hours and eventually stayed fur supper.

    Lavalley family in canoe on Rideau Canal.

    Visitors at the Scouts' camp in Smiths Falls.

    We were very glad to have them. Dinner was prepared by Gerald Lynch and Peter Bedard. These are 2 of our leaders who can really cook.

    One of our canoes had developed a slight leak and a quick patch job was done. It was undertaken by Ben & John Brady.

    After our company departed we wandered throughout the park. Some of the boys put on a water show where lots of people gathered around to watch. Our boys are really good at gunnel [gunwale] balancing and everyone who watched, seemed to be quite impressed. This is a very nice area and in the summer time it is teeming with tourists. Quite a lot of them are Americans who own beautiful launches. Our American friend has been with us up until now. He is heading as far as Ottawa, he tells us, then he is retracing his route and end up back in Kingston.

    Every Sunday evening from 7:00 to 8:00 P.M., they have a Bible Revival Centre held here in the Park and they crowds they draw are tremendous.

    This Park also contains the last of the Harvard Trainers which is an aircraft used for training purposes during the last world war. Any person who served in the R.A.F. or the R.C.A.F. remember this plane. It is mounted on a high cement pedestal with a monument affair on the front.

    Photograph of a Harvard Trainer plane.

    In this park, there is also a fairly large booth for tourist information. Boats from all over and boats of all sizes & description are anchored on the canal system and the people who own them are very friendly and courteous. They invite us aboard for coffee.

    Everyone stops us and asks us what we represent, whereabouts our home town is and all sorts of other questions.


    Images: Aerial view of Smiths Falls; Bill Lavalley with his father and sister paddling in the canal at Smiths Falls; visitors to the camp at Smiths Falls; Harvard aircraft located in the park at Smiths Falls. 

    Crossed paddles with banner that reads follow the canoe.

  • Saturday, July 15, 1967

    Missed an entry? Wondering what this is all about? Start at the beginning and follow along as the 5th Whitby Venturer Scouts canoe to Montreal.

    The following passages were reproduced from the scrapbooks of Gerry Hicks. They have been transcribed without correction. 

    Up at 7:15, break camp, eat a fairly fast breakfast of pancakes, and in the water by 8:30. At Jones Falls we had to portage a large high set of locks. Our destination to-day is Rideau Ferry. The weather to-day is calm and warm. It is 35 miles from the “Falls” to “Ferry” paddling up the Rideau River crossing Sand Lake to Chaffey’s Locks for another portage. Then, on to Newboro for lunch. Our lunch was only about 30 minutes long and back in the water. We padded 35 miles to-day in 10 hours. The cottages along this river are beautiful. People who notice us stop to watch us as we proceed by and they wave.

    Scouts pausing for a break along the Rideau River System.

    Supper was served at Rideau Ferry prepared by Benny LaHaye and son Guy LaHaye. We were allowed 3 Hamburgers each.

    The last 2 miles to the “Ferry” was very wet as it started to rain. Again everyone was paddling like hell so as not to be the last one to arrive.

    Scouts in canoes along the Rideau River System.

    Dinner was very tasty, although wet. After supper, camp was set up in the rain in the backyard of the lockmaster’s house. This spot was the most logical place and the most convenient.

    Rideau Ferry is a fairly small place occupied mainly in the summer time by tourists & cottagers. Here there is also a large dance hall, general store, a large marina and a small restaurant. Just a typical summer village mainly.

    Photographic postcard of Rideau Ferry.

    Curfew for the boys has been extended an extra ½ 11:00 P.M. from 10:30 P.M. since it is Saturday nite. Most everyone returned early though as they were quite tired. It was quite a job getting to sleep as in the dance hall there was a large dance; since Saturday night is the big night of the week, here as in pretty well all other towns. The music was very loud and the group playing were lousy. People were drinking, and empty bottles were strewn all over the place. People were being thrown into the lake to sober up. Boy, what a night!! Even so, the boys slept pretty well through the commotion.


    Images: Pausing for a brief break along the Rideau River System (top two); Aerial view of Rideau Ferry, ON.

    Crossed paddles with banner that reads follow the canoe.

  • Friday, July 14, 1967

    Missed an entry? Wondering what this is all about? Start at the beginning and follow along as the 5th Whitby Venturer Scouts canoe to Montreal.

    The following passages were reproduced from the scrapbooks of Gerry Hicks. They have been transcribed without correction. 

    Got up at 8:15 A.M. and ate a hearty breakfast of porridge, bread and jam and tea. After all camp duties are performed we again prepare for our day’s paddling. With all the paddles and life-jackets sorted out and our small kits are stowed away in the canoes, we are eager to get the show on the road again. Our objective to-day is Jones Falls some 30 miles up the Cataraqui River.

    The boys are very anxious as for them and most of us leaders the waters we will be travelling to-day and from here on are unknown to us. Most of us didn’t know that the Rideau Canal system went all the way from Kingston to Ottawa.

    Everybody is well prepared as we all went to bed relatively early Thursday evening and we all got a good sound sleep.

    So we headed out a fairly fast clip. Then minutes after launching, we have rounded the bend and are losing sight of the Lake Ontario Park. We are still heading due east towards the mouth of the Cataraqui River. Pulling up to Kingston Penitentiary or the “Big House” as it is known, we deliberately slow our pace down so as to give the guards in the watch towers something to use their binoculars for. Passing the “Penn” we approach the Kingston Yacht Club, dodging in and around all sorts of sail boats. At this point we make a sharp left turn and are now heading north and on our right is old Fort Henry. About 200 ft. this side of the Highway #2 bridge, there is an old Martello Tower used years ago as a tower for observation and firing in case of an attack. We stop and observe for a few minutes.

    Photograph of Mortello Tower at Fort Henry in Kingston.

    Then, we paddled under the Highway #2 bridge in amongst 6 or 7 large pleasure craft and past a fairly large navy boat. The water here is scummy and very polluted and there is a huge area covered with ½” of oil and gas on top. So far this is the worst condition we have seen any water in. We head to the far right hand corner of this bay to enter the canal. We think we are on the wrong route but this is where the buoys go, so we must be heading in the right direction. At the entrance of the Canal System; it is teeming with bull rushes & water lilies & weeds. The water here is very calm & warm and is crystal clear. Fish can be seen swimming around. This reminds us for a minute of the start of the Scugog River.

    Approximately 1 mile up the Canal, we can hear trucks and cars so we know we are coming to the 401 Highway Bridge. We travel in close formation enjoying the scenery and paddling like hell so as to arrive at our destination.

    Arrived at Kingston Mills and portaged the locks here and find it cumbersome as we have to carry the canoes up a fairly steep hill plus the fact that we are travelling in a river. After 10 minutes or so we are rolling once again and pass Joyceville Penitentiary on our right hand side. The building here is a long white one and since there are no guard towers or fences I assume it must be minimum security. It appears to be a really lonely place. On we paddle to Brewer Falls, also another lock. This is our lunch stop. The wind is really blowing straight at our backs and we are ever moving. The Cataraqui Lake is really churning. We are trying to keep the boys together but as we have quite a time controlling the canoes, it is pretty well every man for himself. The leaders are keeping a sharp eye on the boys though. This lake is fairly shallow but relatively long and wide. We have to stay between the buoys 100% as this lake is teeming with deadheads. These are logs just coming to the top of the water and are clearly visible on a calm day. But to-day as the water is fairly choppy you cannot observe these deadheads.

    Photographic postcard of the Rideau Canal system.

    We have just run into 5 canoes loaded with Rangers. Each canoe is bright red containing 3 girls in each and is pretty well riding the waterline. We give them a big hand and a cheer but they are too busy paddling against the wind that they only give us a scary smile and keep going. Dad Woods and John Gauthier have straddled their last canoe and have stopped to chat for a minute or two. Also included are Corny Dirks and Dan Gravelle. We found out the girls were from Perth, Ontario and are heading for Kingston. Benny has warned them not to go past the Isle of Man as the wind is very strong in the Lower Cataraqui Lake. Approximately 10-15 minutes after the girls have disappeared from sight, Vidas and myself decide to go swimming and what a beautiful spot to swim; right in the middle of Greater Cataraqui Lake. As soon as our canoe flipped over, there were some of our canoes right there to help us, as well as 3 power boats. This is our first major swamp of the trip. This unfortunately was an expensive swamp as altogether I lost my Buckskin Jacket (all laced together with leather lace) cigarettes, 1 sun hat, my army summer issue bush jacket, some change and a brand new pair of moccasins. We are retrieved in about 4-5 minutes after capsizing by a large yacht from Long Island, New York, U.S.A.

    The captain of the yacht is a high school principal there.

    They towed our canoe to the shore, where we emptied out the water and started on our way again. While pulling us out of the water, the yacht had a hard time maneuvering in around the dead heads and got beached on one. So Benny borrowed his pole hook and helped push him off. We think it might have been a dead head which capsized us or it was a wake from a large pleasure craft which passed us prior to our capsizing. While on shore, wringing out our clothes, we got word from another water craft that the Rangers’ canoes all were capsized and 15 girls were swimming around. Since all their gear was carried with them, it was lost. And we thought we had it bad!

    We arrived in Jones Falls finally, later than scheduled. It was 9:00 P.M. before Benny phoned home. This phoning was done every evening, after the day’s paddling. Everyone hit the sack quite early tonight as we all figured we deserved it.

    View of the locks at Jones Falls.


    Images: Martello Tower at Fort Henry, Kingston; Aerial view of the Rideau Route extending from Kingston to Ottawa; Rideau locks at Jones Falls.

    Paddles with banner that reads follow the canoe.

  • Thursday, July 13, 1967

    Missed an entry? Wondering what this is all about? Start at the beginning and follow along as the 5th Whitby Venturer Scouts canoe to Montreal.

    The following passages were reproduced from the scrapbooks of Gerry Hicks. They have been transcribed without correction. 

    To-day is another bright, sunny day but just a little windy.

    By 8:00 A.M. breakfast of bacon and eggs, toast, jam and tea is finished.

    While the boys break camp the leaders get together and plan the day’s trip.

    There are lots of decisions to make whether we take the long route via Hayward Long Reach and along Adolphus Reach against the wind to L. [Lake] Ontario, a distance of 24 miles to cut straight across Mohawk Bay and follow the Empire Loyalist Route across country for 17 miles. For this area we do not have a topographical map, just a road map of this area and it makes it difficult to define a proper route. 

    We finally decide on the inland route for safety sake as well as the time element. Directly across on the other side of Mohawk Bay from our camp is a farmhouse. Everyone makes a bee line for this farmhouse.

    Again we are off against white caps & strong winds. We have to back-track west a little bit against the wind for approx. 3 miles towards Forrester Island in order to hit our target. Had we not done this, the wind would have been directly on our right side and blown us 10 miles off course, up the Napanee River. We landed exactly on our pre-picked target.

    Scouts paddling in Lake Ontario.

    All our goods carried in the canoes were securely bound to either the middle thwart or shoved up inside stern or bow so as we would not lose them in the event of a capsize. 

    We proceeded up a small knoll to a side road known as road #9.

    We decide to portage to Hare Island on Hay Bay. It is now quite hot and we head East to a cross-road that leads to Hare Is.

    At the cross-road some 4 miles away we run into JOHN BRADY who is driving the car to-day.

    We inform him to go back and pick up stragglers and we will continue on. We have just stopped to talk to a farmer who is repairing a shed and he informs us that we are still 20 miles from the shore of Lake Ontario. After a little fast talk we convinced him that he should carry our canoes on his truck and transport us straight across the island to Sandhurst.

    We arrived at Sandhurst at a point on the junction of Highway 33 and a side road.

    For the bother we had put the farmer to, we reimbursed him with some gas money.

    The water on the lake was hitting the shore-line very heavily and was a beautiful greenish-blue in color and quite cool.

    To date, we have only received a single case of sea sickness, namely Corny Dirks.

    While getting ready to launch our canoes most of us got a little wet as it was hard to hold the canoes steady due to the large waves. Paddling along the lake we stuck closer to the shore than usual but trying at the same time to maintain a straight course.

    Part of the shore-line was very shallow so while paddling in these spots we had to move further out.

    Most of us have been canoeing for many years but to-day I myself, and some of the other boys as well as all the rest of the leaders found out that to-day is the best yet, the waves are enormous and we use the canoes like surf boards and making excellent time.

    The canoes are spread out a little more now and sometimes you see just 2 boys sitting on top of the water with no canoe and then you look up and they are up in the air. They really enjoy this, but I wonder how many cases of sea sickness we are going to have on our hands since the rolls are continuous.

    Now were are approaching Amherst Island which offers a slight shelter due to its large size. As we pass by Bath, Ontario, a small town located on shores of L. [Lake] Ontario, people are waving and cheering. They are also stopping their cars and observing and blowing their horns. To the right side of Amherst Island is Wolfe Island and we are nearing Kingston now.

    It is a real effort to keep the canoes on course. We can now see Collins Bay Penitentiary on our left side and the sky line of Kingston. We are making fairly good time and everything is going by very fast. The rest of the scenery is lovely and the water is now much warmer as is the weather.

    Our destination tonight is Kingston. It is doubtful as to whether we will make it.

    The last stretch by water from Collins Bay Pen. To the park in Kingston is a rough one. We are, at this time approximately ½ to ¾ hr. away from our designated camp.

    There are numerous boulders protruding out of the water so this makes travelling closer to shore a little difficult. As well as this, the wind is coming straight across the lake. Two canoes have just been observed headed for a small bay and Peter Bedard and Gerald Lynch are heading to find out the trouble. As they are attempting to turn their canoe, a huge wave took hold of them and all that could be seen was arms and legs. Their canoe was being thrown up onto shore and they were swimming after it.

    Peter suffered a cut on his knee. The first to be swamped was Tim Van Gils & Corny Dirks followed by John Gauthier and Errol Keoghan. Then Vidas Viaciunas and old faithful (myself) ranked third. Next came John Bedard and Gord Woodcock; Hank Wyst and Steve Baxter and Guy LeHaye and Benny; - in that order.

    This was the first time any or all of us got swamped. But, this is part of the trip. Within 5 minutes of the overturns we were all regrouped on shore. Then we pursued our paddles etc. which were close to shore.

    Photo of a Scout in a canoe.

    We were all wet and cold but happy. By the time we got everything together approx.. 1 ½ hrs. had elapsed.

    A gentleman, by the name of Mr. Walker who has a house located on the lake front not too far from our capsizes, came to our aid and invited us to his house to dry off. He even outfitted all of us with temporary clothing while his wife was kept busy drying our clothing.

    He served us hot coffee and cake and we watched T.V. He later drove us through Kingston, showing us various highlights of the city, then took us tour camp, which was Lake Ontario Provincial Park located across from the grain elevators and about 2 miles from where we went aground. This was the best camp site so far as it was equipped with all available facilities. There was even a dance floor. Most everyone else attended the dance except Danny Gravelle who was sea sick. We tried him on dry toast but ended up getting him medicine.

    There was no real supper tonight as everyone had been filling up at the snack bar.

    Conclusion: Today has been a real trying day. In fact it was our most trying day thus far. The boys are growing up fast and their behavior is excellent. We, the leaders have nothing but praise for them and this makes us all very proud leaders.

    Images: Paddling somewhere in Lake Ontario; "Susie" in Lake Ontario near Kingston.

    Crossed paddles with banner reading follow the canoe.

  • Wednesday, July 12, 1967

    Missed an entry? Wondering what this is all about? Start at the beginning and follow along as the 5th Whitby Venturer Scouts canoe to Montreal.

    The following passages were reproduced from the scrapbooks of Gerry Hicks. They have been transcribed without correction. 

    Again we arose at 7:00 A.M. very tired but also very eager to get on our way.

    After a hearty breakfast of porridge and tea we hiked about ¾ mile to pick up our canoes which were stored for us. We were then escorted through the main streets of Trenton to the town docks by the president of the Chamber of Commerce, news reporters and the police.

    At the docks many pictures were taken, good-byes were said, then we shoved off at 9:30 A.M. We are now heading for Deseronto. It is again very hot but the lake is quiet.

    Scouts leaving the marina at Trenton.

    We headed about 1 mile out into the bay, then swinging left with a good breeze on our backs headed due east. Upon passing the Trenton Air Base, the wind seems to be getting stronger and we are really moving, in the rough waves. In the past hour we have covered more rough water than the 2 days on the Trent. We can now see Belleville in the distance as it is only 13 miles from Trenton by road but a little more by water.

    We are making excellent time as the wind is with us. We arrived in Belleville, sharply at 12:00 NOON and put into a cove known as SWICK [Zwick's] PARK. Fortunately the Centennial Caravan was stopped here also, so we ate a fast lunch, then toured the Caravan. There was also a huge crowd waiting to greet us as this was our destination for lunch.

    The area in the “Quinte Region” namely Trenton and Belleville was our best covered area as far as radio interviews were concerned.

    To-day for lunch we had a special treat: Scotch broth soup and meat sandwich’s.

    I feel rough water has brought our group closer together again as long as the Group Committee continues to leave us alone.

    At 1:15 P.M., we are off again, leaving SWICK [Zwick's] PARK with still a fairly strong wind on our backs.

    Crossing under the bridge at Highway 29 we will soon be entering Big Bay. We have been warned by the people in Belleville to be very cautious as the Bay gets very rough at times. We group closer together, generally 10 ft. apart.

    Big Bay is sheltered at the west end and therefore the water seems very calm. We pause for a quick smoke and discuss the situation. It is decided that party maintains a strict close formation with the strongest paddlers bringing up the rear. This so called bay is 10 miles across and we know that we may encounter our roughest waters yet. Approximately 1 half an hour out, the wind is really blowing and the waves getting higher. It is a lot of fun riding these high waves but the poor bow paddler gets the wettest. The stern paddler has the hard pleasure of keeping the canoe on a straight course. We estimated the waves to be 3 or 4 feet high as our canoes were rising almost half-way out of the water. At times it gives a person one hell of a feeling.

    Two scouts in one canoe paddling on Lake Ontario.

    We keep heading into the wind so as not to tip over our craft. After passing Bobby Hull’s Farm and the Cement Plant, outside Belleville we can observe in the distance at the bridge at Deseronto and the more we paddle the further away it seems to get. Due to rough water conditions, the leaders motion the boys to shore. This is more fun as you can surf all the way to shore. This way, no paddling is required. All that is needed is for the stern paddler to keep the canoe heading on a slight angle towards shore. We stop at Tridden [Trident] Point and portage through muskeg like ground around ½ mile to the north shore. Then, hopping back into our canoes and in formation we use the point to break the wind. The water is calmer and we are averaging better than 5 miles per hour which is very good for a canoe.

    Passing under the new bridge at Deseronto finally, we follow the shore-line for approx. 3 miles. 

    We camped at the town park in Deseronto, on Mohawk Bay. This is the first park we have run into with no wash-room facilities or running water but it was a place to stay.

    Supper is eaten, camp set-up, dishes washed then we toured the town. The leaders gathered all laundry and went to the laundry mat in town to do the washing. We were interviewed here also by a news reporter.

    Tonight we hit the sack early as our next day is a real hard one.

    Images: Leaving Trenton, Wednesay, July 12, 1967; two Scouts paddling in Lake Ontario near Belleville. 

    Paddles with banner that reads follow the canoe.

  • Tuesday, July 11, 1967

    The following passages were reproduced from the scrapbooks of Gerry Hicks. They have been transcribed without correction. 

    Rise and shine at 7:30 A.M. with rain pelting down so hard that canoeing was virtually impossible. We had a wet breakfast. This type of weather makes everyone lazy. Nevertheless our camp was a comfortable one as the equipment we are using is the best that money can buy.

    At this time the moral of the boys is rather low from the previous day’s incidents.

    Scouts posing near sea-saws in Trenton.

    We were interviewed at 10:30 by the local Trenton-Belleville radio station CJBQ and the Trenton newspapers.

    Irregardless of the rainy weather, we all still wanted to continue, but we were advised by the R.C.A.F. Stn. Trenton Weather Bureau to stay off the lake as conditions were very rough. As a result of this, we stayed and left on Wednesday morning.

    Later in the day, Mr. Wilson presented all of us with souvenirs of their town. At night, we held a huge open camp-fire where Mr. Bernard Fox who is the District Commissioner of the area presented us with a district badge.

    Trenton regional scout badge.

    Various skits were performed; hot chocolate served and then everyone department. Most of us go to bed around 12:30-1:00 A.M.

    Images: Partial view of our campsite in Trenton. The boys were always kept well occupied with various camp activities, swings, teeter-totters, etc.; Trenton regional Scout badge given to the paddlers by the District Commissioner.

    Banner that reads follow the canoe.

  • Monday, July 10, 1967

    The following passages were reproduced from the scrapbooks of Gerry Hicks. They have been transcribed without correction. 

    11:00 A.M.

    Another meeting is held to decide what we are going to do. It is decided that we portage to Trenton as advised.

    We have formed the opinion that we are at this point, being pulled out of the water just to meet someone’s demand that don’t know a damn thing about canoeing, the Trent System, Scouting or boys.

    The feelings of the boys towards the Group Committee are just terrible.

    Newspaper article about the frustrations of the Scouts.

    We departed from Oak Orchards some in Brady‘s wagon, others in the truck and the remainder in Mr. Lynch’s vehicle. We headed out around 11:30 along the highway running beside the water system. The water was only turbulent around the dams.

    We observed young boys out on the water system, floating on air mattresses.

    It is quite hot to-day and humid and looks like rain.

    We stopped to talk to an official at the lift locks in Peterboro and were informed by him that the Canal System should be back to normal by Thursday.

    We arrived in Trenton at the Dominion Store Parking Lot at Highway #2. Ben left to make arrangements for our camp-site. We got in touch with the President of the Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Jack Wilson. He is a real fine gentleman, a real helpful organizer with thought only for the boys. He arranged for us to stay in the Town Park free and had our canoes stored in his apartment to prevent damage. Ice-cream was given away to all the crew compliments again of Mr. Wilson.

    This, we were told was the first time an expedition of this type had stopped in Trenton.

    This was probably why we were given the red carpet treatment.

    Benny departed for Whitby to return the truck and by the time he returned back to Trenton he found Mr. Morris and Mr. Baxter disappointed with the whole trip. The boys also didn’t enjoy the meals as much because we were served fancy meals of the kind, that when you are camping you do not enjoy. Also none of us appreciated sitting down and getting up to the sound of a bugle as this was what was going on.

    The boys were taken on a tour of the big town of Trenton, and the Rovers within our crew; namely 2 of us were invited to the den of the Trenton Rover Crew. To-day we had a lot of visitors and we find everyone really nice. At 12:30 in the evening we were invited to Mr. and Mrs. Wilson’s apartment located right across from the town park.

    Image of Follow the Canoe.

  • Sunday, July 9, 1967

    The following passages were reproduced from the scrapbooks of Gerry Hicks. They have been transcribed without correction. 

    The camp is now awoken. Everyone is buzzing around.

    The sky looks rather heavy but we are not too worried.

    Everyone is now washed and ready to sit down to breakfast consisting of fried tomatoes, fried potatoes and onions, with ½ grapefruit and tea. With breakfast over everyone proceeds to wash his own meal tins and prepare for mass.

    To get everyone to mass, we made 3 trips to the church by the car. While we were doing this the other boys were sitting on a brick fence near the church and someone figured we were a motorcycle gang, without motorcycles, and called the “cops.” By the time the police arrived there were 20 of us attired in buckskins. I imagine we all looked rather rough and tough as the police looked at us and sped away. When they arrived minutes later with other help, we were entering the church and I guess they must have figured that we were O.K..

    Young Scouts in a canoe that says Whitby on the side.

    9:15 A.M. 

    We departed, the press again were on hand, and it was raining slightly. While getting into our canoes, Gerry Lynch fell into his, causing a big laugh and a sore leg.

    Benny took the lead about 500 ft. ahead as he didn’t want to take any chances on the dams. The water though, was not turbulent and the locks were operating. The mayor and local V.I.P’s allowed us through the locks without a permit, and once again we were on our way.

    Rain started heavily around 5 miles north on the Sturgeon River but seemed to stop as fast as it started. Now it is hot and sticky.

    Benny had arrangements made with friends of his to meet us all along the canal system.

    Heading across Sturgeon Lake, John Brady and the rest of the leaders except Benny are paddling with the boys like mad to try and lose him as he was stopped, talking to a friend of his in a large motor launch.

    Ben finally caught up to us after a while and found us all taking a reset at MacDonnell Isle about 8 miles from Bobcaygeon. Some of us went for a refreshing swim while the majority were getting 40 winks.

    It is now nearly 2:00 P.M. and we are all ready to push for “Caygeon” where a light lunch awaits us. The water is choppy, but it is fun riding the waves. The wind is blowing across our bows at the proper angle to allow us to make good time.

    Postcard of the canal at Bobcaygeon.

    3:20 P.M. 

    Now coming into Bobcaygeon and we can see clearly the wagon and trailer. As our cook is flagging us all in, we pulled into a small pond one at a time and started on our lunch. Boy, what a lunch: 1 orange, 1 sm. miniature box of raisins, and a ½ cup of turkey soup. John Brady and myself made a getaway and went to restaurant where we got a real lunch that was filling. After lunch we headed back to the canoes to rest awhile before proceeding onward again. It was a hot afternoon around the 90 degree-mark. The water is still fast but all the locks are operating.

    We portage around the locks as not all of our canoes are registered and also we can make faster time by portaging.

    We were again cheered by Sunday visitors and the townspeople. On the other side of the dam the water is fast but everyone likes this, as you can go with the current and paddling becomes easier; plus the fact it breaks the monotony.

    Benny stopped in “Caygeon” for a few minutes to get info on the waters to Buckhorn from some friends of his. We waited for our skipper at the entrance to Pigeon Lake. Paddling here isn’t very hard as the water isn’t moving.

    Our objective, is the causeway at the entrance of Buckhorn, about 3 more hrs. of paddling. Everyone already is becoming very dark and well tanned due to the excessive hot weather.

    A boat just pulled up and informed us that he had a complaint from our group committee that were 5 hrs. overdue and lost. It is obvious that they don’t know too much about canoes, if they think we can travel 10 miles per hr. across a lake when there is hardly any movement in the water.

    We decided we will camp at Oak Orchards for the night. Waiting on the dock for us, of all people to see is Mr. Fitzgerald. 

    As soon as we docked the boys were called on to peel spuds and get the stoves ready without even having 5 minutes to rest.

    It was realized that Mr. Fitzgerald and Mr. Gravelle both on the Group Committee did not come here to welcome us but to discourage us from going on. We, the leaders do not understand their motive.

    However tents were pitched at the Oak Orchards Marina on about 3 ft. of grass at a ridiculous cost of $6.00 per day. It was not our idea to camp here or our idea of a camp-site but was chosen by our now infamous Group Committee.

    The boys and leaders all feel that permission was granted by the boys’ parents to go on this trip and that the Group Committee has no right interfering.

    Mr. Inkpen is here also and he informs us that our Group Committee was raising such a stink over the supposedly rough water and that the parents are beginning to worry and that we had better cancel the rest of the trip here. Mr. Fitzgerald gets a brainwave and decides to portage via truck to Trenton.

    Ben arrived back in Whitby at 7:00 A.M. Monday to pick up a truck loaned to us by B & R Transport to head back to Buckhorn. He arrives around 10:00 a.m.

    Now, everyone is thoroughly disappointed and still want to continue by way of canoes.

    Images: Leaving the docks at Port Perry; Canal entrance at Bobcaygeon. 

    Banner that reads follow the canoe.